Improvement needed in secondary schools

Education chiefs in Northumberland have vowed to improve the performance in secondary schools after a slip in their national rating.

New figures released by Ofsted show that while primary schools in the county are among the best performing in the country, secondary schools need improvement.

The annual report for 2013-14 shows that 90 per cent of primary age children in Northumberland attend ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools – putting the authority joint 21st nationally, a rise of three per cent.

But only 66 per cent of secondary age pupils attend ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools, placing the authority 111th out of 150.

Officials at Northumberland County Council have welcomed the results and said they are working on addressing key issues raised by Ofsted.

Andy Johnson, the newly appointed director of education, said: “We are delighted that 90 per cent of children of primary age in Northumberland attend good or outstanding schools.

“This is a big increase since 2013 and puts us in the top 25 local authorities nationally.

“We realise that there is still some way to go to improve secondary education.

“Two thirds of secondary age children attend good or outstanding schools and clearly we need to improve this proportion.

“As it says in the Ofsted report, the focused school inspections in Northumberland has helped us identify the key issues to be addressed. We are raising the bar and providing greater challenge and support to schools.

“We are focusing particularly on ensuring that schools improve the progress that our most disadvantaged children make. We look forward to working with Ofsted over the coming year to ensure this happens.”

Nick Hudson, Ofsted director for North East, Yorkshire and Humber, said: “There have been some improvements in the region since the last annual report. I am really pleased that 30,000 more pupils are attending primary schools that are good or better than was the case this time last year.

“The biggest challenge we face is the poor performance of the area’s secondary schools. Too many young children have a good or better education at their primary school, only to then attend a school that must improve.

“Looking ahead to next year, Ofsted inspectors will be working with schools and councils to raise the proportion of good and outstanding schools, and help raise the prospects of those pupils from poorer backgrounds.”